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Old 23.04.2015, 13:08
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about copyright of art

hello, does anyone know the law regarding the re-using of art images in a saleable product? is there one over-reaching law in fact (i'm guessing no)? perhaps you need to get individual permissions by the artists/copyright holders before using their paintings? are paintings over a certain age, on the other hand, copyright free?

thanks for any help etc
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Old 23.04.2015, 13:11
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Re: about copyright of art

You mean, for example, like creating and selling a Mona Lisa sandwich box?
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Old 23.04.2015, 13:14
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Re: about copyright of art

for example, yes. (although didn't leonardo da vinci invent one of them himself, a flying one?)

also a sandwich box with a repr. of a painting on it that has been made in say the last ten years?
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Old 23.04.2015, 14:12
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Re: about copyright of art

If the artist is alive then you will need permission, if the artist is dead and has family that is still alive you will need permission from the family.
There are copywriter laws and laws protecting artists.
Posters and original prints are registered in national libraries so protecting them also.

The free movement of art by contemporary artists are free of passage (that means free of tax) between countries that have signed EU. Accords of Florence agreements and the UN treaty on plastic arts, protecting works of art. over 170 countries signed.

In the sale of works of art as in auction houses a percentage should be reserved for the artist if he or she is living, some big auction houses do not make allowance, as they are just downright greedy, so the poor artist does not make a penny.

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Old 23.04.2015, 14:23
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Re: about copyright of art

Many deceased artists have trusts administrating their copyright issues.

I was once planning to use a picture by MC Escher on a brochure I was working on. I contacted the trust lawyer and she was very friendly and amenable to my suggestion. She liked my mockup and her price was pretty moderate. However that fell through as we dropped the entire project for an entirely different reason.

I also talked to Herge's lawyers once about having a picture of Tintin. They were a bit tougher in their conditions and on the approvals process (they wouldn't allow the picture to be cropped in a certain way) but the overall story was similar.

So my advice is, talk to the trust lawyers directly. They're not going to bite your head off.
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Old 23.04.2015, 15:49
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Re: about copyright of art

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If the artist is alive then you will need permission, if the artist is dead and has family that is still alive you will need permission from the family.
There are copywriter laws and laws protecting artists.
Posters and original prints are registered in national libraries so protecting them also.

The free movement of art by contemporary artists are free of passage (that means free of tax) between countries that have signed EU. Accords of Florence agreements and the UN treaty on plastic arts, protecting works of art. over 170 countries signed.

In the sale of works of art as in auction houses a percentage should be reserved for the artist if he or she is living, some big auction houses do not make allowance, as they are just downright greedy, so the poor artist does not make a penny.

Don't you think that if the artist is dead, you need to ask the permission of the owner of the artwork, and even then in some cases it's probably only as a courtesy. Not all art has copyright against and if it does, it's probably with the owner or custodian (museum or gallery).
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Old 23.04.2015, 16:03
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Re: about copyright of art

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Not all art has copyright against and if it does, it's probably with the owner or custodian (museum or gallery).
There are different setups.

I have bought some batch loads of old photographs (slides and negatives) on Ebay. The understanding there is that the owner is not transferring the copyright unless he specifically says so. Thus of course I checked that this was the case.

In the case of photographs, it is often wrongly assumed that whoever has the negative has the copyright. But this is not automatically so. Of course with digital photographs there is no actual negative or original so copyright must be specified when sold.

Likewise with paintings, the owner of the original does not automatically own the copyright.
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Old 23.04.2015, 16:11
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Re: about copyright of art

Thanks veiko99 for that outline


amogles very interesting that. Id love to know how much you were going to be charged for one or the other or both of the examples mentioned. Was it a one-off price? Per brochure or per amount of brochures?


Ginger Grizzle could you give me an example of art without copyright?


also, out of curiosity of the boundaries what if someone photographed a copyrighted artwork thats in a public space (and maybe photod it at a slight angle to suggest uniqueness/or straight on as if a postcard) and then used images of that photo on a sandwich box?
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Old 23.04.2015, 16:22
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Re: about copyright of art

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amogles – very interesting that. I’d love to know how much you were going to be charged for one or the other or both of the examples mentioned. Was it a one-off price? Per brochure or per amount of brochures?
I think the price depends on the number of brochures to be printed. We were looking at about 60,000 brochures and they would have charged us about 1,200 Euros. So quite fair really. The design agency and production fees were many times that figure. I also used a piece from an unknown artist once and we payed just CHF 20, which I thought was ridiculously cheap.


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also, out of curiosity of the boundaries – what if someone photographed a copyrighted artwork that’s in a public space (and maybe photod it at a slight angle to suggest uniqueness/or straight on as if a postcard) … and then used images of that photo on a sandwich box?
There have been court cases over things like this. The criterium is whether or not your photograph adds any artistic value. So for example if you paint a picture of (or photograph) a living room, and there is a Picasso on the wall, you are using the Picasso as an element of your own artwork. But your own artwork is much more than the Picasso and maybe even making a statement about it. That is allowed and you neither need to ask permission nor pay anything. But if your artwork is just a blatant attempt to copy the original, even if there are some figleaf changes or extras, but the intent was to produce a copy, then its still plagiarism.

There was a courtcase in Germany where a railfan walked into a station one day and saw a photograph that he had taken had been turned into a poster. He got angry and took DB to court over plagiarism for downloading the picture off his website without his permission and using it thus. Strangely he lost, as the judge ruled his picture was of no artistic merit but the artistic value was the train which had been designed by DB's designers and was thus their copyright.
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Old 23.04.2015, 16:33
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Re: about copyright of art

wow! and did the judge say the photos were in a public space to begin with thus fair use?
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